Chat systems fall into two categories:
- Chat systems that let web site visitors interact directly with a human operator and
- Automated chat systems that provide responses to customer queries automatically
The first type are often referred to as live chat systems and they typically operate by displaying a discreet dialogue box at the bottom of a web page asking visitors if they want to chat. Of course for this type of system to work well, you need a full-time operator to be available to answer chat messages when they come in and also sufficient capacity to deal with the volume of chats your web page generates.
The second type of chat system – chatbots – are automatic and so operate 24/7 and can usually deal with whatever volume of chat requests that get sent to them. However, chatbots have no intrinsic intelligence or knowledge of your products or services to they need to be trained. This is not as daunting a task as you might think.
For example, Microsoft are currently offering a type of chatbot system called QnA Maker which handles much of the natural language processing side of things whilst learning what answers to serve up based on the contents of an FAQ pages you might already have.